English Family China

Christine Borland, 1998

WAG 1999.57a-y

About this object

Image © Christine Borland

Through meticulous research, Borland - who was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1997 - explores life, death and how social systems and institutions exploit and devalue life.

In 'English Family China' a number of real human skulls, imported from South America via the USA - one foetal, one adult male, one adult female and one six year old child - are her starting point. Versions of these were cast in bone china, the material developed in Britain for fine tableware as an alternative to Oriental porcelain. 18th century Liverpool was a major centre for porcelain production. The skulls' blue-on-white marine motifs are typical of the Liverpool factories.

Borland's skulls, displayed in 'nuclear family' groups, invite us to examine history, mortality and morality, and Liverpool's role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    Christine Borland (British: Scottish, born:1965, died:unknown)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Paint; Ceramic; Wood; Glass
  • Measurements
  • Physical description
    Twenty individual ceramic skulls made in white porcelain with blue painted designs. The skulls are displayed in 'family' groups by the artist's design on 5 plain wooden glass topped tables.
  • Related people
    Christine Borland (Artist/maker, previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 11579
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with the aid of Art Transpennine (1999); commissioned for artranspennine98 supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England in 1999.
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Christine Borland

    Owned from: 1998
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1999
    Disposal method: Sold to the Walker Art Gallery in 1999


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: 1998
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location:
Object view = Fine Art
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